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Managing Stress Effectively

Updated on July 21, 2008

Managing Stress Effectively

Once a person understands what is causing them to be stressed, the next step is to work out how to manage the stress. This could include action such as:

Controlling or better still eliminating if possible the problems that are causing the stress

Using stress reduction techniques

Making changes to your lifestyle

Taking a holiday or a break more often

Asking your family for support

Organizing your time better

Taking up hobbies or increasing your leisure time

Being prepared to ask for help

Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress can only be eliminated if the root causes are recognized and resolved. However, there are a variety of ways in which the unpleasant effects of stress may be reduced. These include:

Relaxation techniques

Physical relaxation is something that appears to be easy but in truth, learning to relax is a skill that takes practice. Most of us say “we are too busy to relax!” but even if you spend only 15 minutes a day sitting quietly and breathing deeply and slowly you will eventually start to notice a difference in how you feel and in how you deal with life. Tensing your muscles and holding your breath becomes a habit: the key to relaxation is training the body to feel tension and recognize when breathing reflects tension.

Breathing exercise:

• Apply the first two fingers of the right hand to the side of the right nostril and press gently to close it. Breathe in slowly through the left nostril and hold for a count of 3

• Transfer the first 2 fingers to the left nostril to close it

• Breathe out slowly through the right nostril on a count of 3. Breathe in through the right nostril and hold for a count of 3 and whilst holding, transfer the fingers to the right nostril and breathe out

• Repeat the above 6 times

Correct breathing is something which really needs to be practiced until it feels natural.

Visualization

Imagery technique can be useful to recreate a retreat from stress and pressure. You imagine a place or event that was happy and peaceful and use it to help manage a stressful period.

It is usually more effective and real if it is combined with sounds and warmth. Using a relaxation tape can often help you to concentrate.

Meditation

Its not all “yoga pants, sitting cross – legged and murmuring “oom”!!” The idea of meditation is to focus your thoughts on relaxing for a period of time, leaving the mind and body to recover from any problems or worries that may have caused your stress. It helps to slow down your breathing, helps your muscles to relax, reduces your blood pressure and helps you to think more clearly. The key to meditation is to calm the mind and focus completely on one thing. Again, it is a skill that needs to be practiced. If you find your mind wandering just gently go back to focusing.

Attitude to stress

Attitude is a major fundamental factor in stress management. If you are negative all the time you end up alienating and irritating other people whereas if you are positive it makes life more pleasurable and stress more manageable. When the body is under stress it is very easy to lose perspective and relatively minor problems can turn into major traumas!! It helps to view any problems in a different way and approach them as challenges or learning experiences. I appreciate that at times this can be difficult but I truly believe this is the way to handling stress effectively.

Common negative thoughts are feelings of inadequacy, self-criticism, dwelling on past mistakes and worrying about how you appear to others. I suggest you write these thoughts down and review them rationally – are they based on reality?

Start to use positive affirmations in order to change your thoughts from negative to positive e.g. “This is a disaster” becomes “lets see what good can come from this experience” or start to use “powerful” words as opposed to “painful” words e.g. “ I hope I get a job” becomes “I know I will get a job” . Trust me, if you start to be more positive in your actions and words, your life will change.

Stress Tip from Counselling Spain: Remember “negative attracts negative” and “positive attracts positive”

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